• Handling Breakups

Should I Return My Friend’s House Keys?

Published: February 18, 2015 | Last Updated: October 28, 2021 By | 10 Replies Continue Reading
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Exchanging house keys implies a relationship of trust. W/hen a friendship ends, it may be time to return the keys. 



I had a friend that I decided had used men and we sort of ended the friendship. We had each other’s house keys and I received my key back from her today. Do I return hers? She left no note attached.

Best, Adele


Hi Adele,

Sharing house keys with a friend implies a relationship of trust and goodwill.

I don’t know what happened between you—but presuming you and your friend both want to end this friendship, there is no reason for you to hang on to her house keys. Return them as soon as possible so you can move forward.

If you have misgivings about ending the relationship, return her key with a nice note expressing your feelings.

Best, Irene

Previously on The Friendship Blog: Keykeeper Friends Who Watch Over Your Home

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Category: HANDLING BREAKUPS, How to get over a breakup

Comments (10)

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  1. Julie Katz says:

    Returning the keys… you betcha! I liked that first answer too!! Good luck with your friend whether you decide to be her friend or not.

  2. Returning the key with a nice note is wonderful advice. It leaves the door open for the friend to take a step toward repairing the friendship.

  3. Carol says:

    Comment(s) made earlier.

  4. Carol says:

    My best friend and also power of attorney and I have each other’s house keys. We met in 2006 while working in a school district. She is married and has been for over 50 years to the same man. I am single since 2006 when I decided to try life on my onw. We have exchanged house keys because she will need to clear out my place where I live and take care of all those end of life duties for me. My own family members have all died and this person and I have established a trusting relationship wherein we simply support each other’s choices in life. I am not a person who trusts easily and she understands the reasons why this is so for me. She knows my long history with attempting to be in relationship with a partner or other friends for that matter. She doesn’t try to change me, nor me her. Have we developed such a relationship because both of us “need” each other?

    We see each other maybe once a week, just to share how we are doing individually with our days, don’t tell each other what to do about a problem, unless we ask each other for suggestions. I think this friendship works because we “mind our own business” and are each content to be one’s self. If I need advice, I ask for it and feel free to use it or not. She shares angst about her husband and hers relationship…I just listen usually and if she wants my thoughts, I share them. We just don’t tell each other what to do, who to be friends with or how to live our individual lives. I am a lesbian, she a straight woman who has educated herself as to the challenges of my life, as I have hers as a married woman.

    Finally, we have learned how to trust each other. And the obvious truth is I may out live her. I have to say I am not sure I could trust anyone like this ever again. I know one thing for sure, this friendship has helped me to know what I consider is the truth of life. That truth is the relationship I have with myself is the most important one. I know now that I can have either have security or growth, because I can’t have both. Any friend who encourages you to trust yourself and to know we can each tolerate separation from each other because we each have a solid relationship with ourself.

    In the end, life is not some tidy thing; it’s unpredictable and full of surprises.
    Throughout my 76 years I’ve had several fairly long partnerships that worked for a time. However. this is the friendship-relationship wherein I have grown as a person the most. We have the keys to each other’s homes, but most importantly we have the key to making our friendship work for both of us. She has skills I have wanted all my life and I have skills she admires and desires for herself. We both know that one day we have to say our goodbyes. Until then we’ll just keep learning from each other how to get up and do the next day of our individual lives.


    • Irene says:

      Thanks for that beautifully expressed post, Carol. Your post also addresses the intangible meaning of sharing keys with a friend. Best, Irene

    • Laura says:

      Carol, I was touched by your post. I share Irene’s sentiment that is was beautifully articulated. Sharing keys definitely demonstrates a strong level of trust. You are very lucky to have a friendship like this.

      • Carol says:

        Thank you for your feedback. I know how we have to struggle, all of us, to learn to be honest with our friendships. For me it took a very long time to be friends with myself let alone anyone else. Now that I know I am my best friend, then I can open my heart to others with less fear. A little fear helps me to know to take my time in forming friendships.

        Best to you, Carol

  5. Amy F says:

    Return the key. It’s not your property, it’s hers. What would happen if she had a break in and the cops suspected you because you had a key. No good can come from keeping it,

    If you decide to repair the relationship, you can always exchange keys again. Whether or not you want to be friends again, I’d include a kind note, even if it’s just wishing her well. You lose nothing expressing kindness (unless she’s a stalker), and best not to burn bridges or leave others with bad feelings.

    Good luck,

  6. lottie says:

    Yes ASAP return them. They are not yours to keep. If anything was to go missing at a later date involving police or whoever they will be knocking at your door. Lottie

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